You’ve worked really hard on creating original, interesting content for your organisation. You’ve differentiated your posts for each channel, crafted your hashtags and perfected your image choices.
You’ve assigned your team to moderate the comment section and engage with your audience. You’re all set to get your stuff out there in front of people and watch your reach numbers explode.
And then… nothing happens. No one sees your post.
Organisations get caught up in the process of creating social media content and the need to look active or move quickly to react to the moment, they too often adopt a ‘post first, ask questions later’ approach. But like most things in life, timing is everything. Having a clear idea of who your audience is and when they’re most likely to see your stuff can be the difference between your content spreading like wildfire or sitting stagnant on social media.
So with that in mind, how can you tell when is the best time to post? The short answer is it depends on your audience. This article will give you the latest research data and some handy tips for identifying the optimal posting time for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
In many ways, Facebook is the toughest nut to crack in terms of optimal posting time due to the complicated (and secret) nature of the algorithmic timeline. Traditionally, posting late morning on Tuesdays and Wednesdays has had the highest rate of organic success. But the effectiveness of posting in those timeslots appears to have fallen off in recent times, perhaps as a result of over-saturation as everyone aims at the same target.
Recent research from social companies such as Hootsuite, HubSpot and QuickSprout have all put forward differing specific optimal times for optimising organic success on Facebook. But the key overlap in terms of days appear to be later in the week, specifically Thursday and Friday. In terms of an optimal posting time, between 1pm to 3pm appears to be the sweet spot. While weekend engagement is much lower compared to weekdays, there also appears to be a tight window on Saturdays between 12pm and 1pm where click-through rates spike.
It’s important to keep in mind that your specific page audience may not align uniformly with these big data macro trends. Using Facebook Insights, you’re able to use the ‘When Your Fans Are Online’ feature to gain a handy visualisation of where your audience spikes and troughs throughout the day and the week. This should always be the first stop when creating a posting schedule for your Facebook page.
Unlike Facebook, the margin for error when maximising organic reach on Twitter is tiny. Because it uses a chronological timeline, a post that doesn’t immediately gain traction with your audience is often washed away by the deluge of new material filling up the screen. According to an analysis by Wiselytics, the average half-life of a tweet is just 24 minutes. For reference, the organic half-life of an average Facebook post is around 90 minutes.
With such a small timeframe to work within, getting your tweets out in front of the the largest possible audience is critical to being heard. The research is split between two camps; Hootsuite and Hubspot both believe that the 12pm to 3pm timeslot on weekdays is the best for attracting retweets and click-throughs, while The Huffington Post and Kissmetrics lean towards the end of the day, between 5pm to 6pm, for best organic performance.
Worried about not knowing which is right for your page? The curse of the chronological timeline is also a blessing, as it lends itself to experimentation and reposting opportunities. Reposting your content at different times to try and reach different audiences on Twitter is a great way to maximise the value you get out of each piece you create. Geography also plays more of a factor in determining organic performance on Twitter than Facebook, so organisations with national or international audiences should tailor posting schedules with specific time zones and areas in mind.
Instagram went from a strictly chronological timeline to a more algorithmic driven system that tends to favour the most popular content – i.e. the posts with the most likes and comments. While this means that a post can be seen hours after it goes live, capturing that initial audience to generate that engagement is as vital as ever to your organic success.
In broad terms, organic posting on Instagram is most successful between 12pm and 1pm, which corresponds with a spike in activity around lunchtime. The visual, simple nature of the platform makes it ideal for less mentally taxing browsing while people take their breaks. On that point, Instagram is not the place to make complex arguments or bombard your viewers with dense information. Keep is as simple as possible.
Understanding who your audience is and when they’re most likely to be on Instagram during their daily schedules is the key to seeing results here. When do they take breaks and browse their phones? What resonates with them visually? Keeping your content simple, visually engaging and positive in tone will make the biggest impact on your audience.
Ultimately, there is no one size fits all solution for optimal posting times. What works for Facebook may not work for Twitter or for Instagram. One of the key understandings to take away from this piece is that your audience is different between your social channels. What resonates with a hard core Twitter user won’t necessarily translate to a casual Instagram browser. Building audience personas for each social platform is a key part of your posting strategy, as is actively assessing your performance and making active adjustments by interpreting your data and analytics. It’s not easy work, but putting in the effort into your content scheduling can pay big dividends for your organisation's social media performance down the line.
For further digital & social media advice, please contact Campaign Capital.
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